Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has announced that since the phased reopening of the country’s borders on June 15, Jamaica has welcomed more than 35,000 visitors.
“We expect to have another 30,000 at the end of July, and that would bring us somewhere in the region of about US$80 million in foreign exchange,” the Minister said.
Mr. Bartlett was speaking at a digital press conference on July 10.
The island’s airports and seaports were closed to all incoming travellers on March 24, as part of measures to contain the transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“That’s a start and I must tell you that I got a video message from one of our workers the first morning that she welcomed the first guest in the hotel, and it put tears to my eyes when she said, ‘I’m excited because I have guests’, and that’s what the reopening of the sector provides,” he said.
He informed that the protocols that have been developed to safeguard workers, visitors and Jamaicans will be reviewed periodically, “to ensure our processes are safe, seamless and secure”.
“To safeguard workers of the sector, we developed, through the Jamaica Centre for Tourism Innovation, a COVID-19 training video that highlights the health protocols they are to follow on a daily basis while they commute to and from work,” the Minister said.
He noted too that 10,000 masks were distributed to vulnerable tourism workers “to help them stay safe and reduce the risk of spreading the disease”.
Mr. Bartlett said, globally, small and medium-sized tourism enterprises play a major role in most economies, particularly in developing countries.
“Here in Jamaica our tourism sector is dominated by a vast network of small and medium‐sized tourist enterprises (SMTEs), including artisans, craft vendors, attractions and tours, transportation, beauty shops and textiles, duty-free stores, restaurants and eateries, bed and breakfast, beauty shops and farmers,” the Minister noted.
“This vast network of SMTEs constitute the backbone of the sector, contributing significantly to the authenticity and quality of the tourism experience and enhancing the destination competitiveness,” he added.
Mr. Bartlett argued that SMTEs also play an integral role in helping to retain higher earning on each dollar on the supply side by strengthening linkages.